Ensign Michael Burnham: Personal Log.
October 31, 2249. Halloween.
Today, Captain Georgiou returned from her diplomatic and scientific mission to Kora IV. Naturally, I wanted to know all about what had transpired there, and what the people there are like. However, my low rank and relative newness to the crew meant I felt I could not ask her too many questions directly. The rest of the crew, meanwhile, seem to have only one thing on their minds today: the ship’s Halloween party.
For weeks, it seems, my shipmates have been discussing what costumes they will wear to the event, who they will go with, and what they think might happen on that day. Now that the day has arrived, that has only intensified. At least by now most of them have given up on trying to convince me to attend, knowing that I have no intention of doing so.
The truth is, I have never been to this sort of Halloween party before. By the time I was of an age where such a thing would be considered appropriate, I had already been living on Vulcan for several years. Halloween is not celebrated there; in addition, the Vulcan Science Academy is not an environment in which these parties typically take place.
I plan to take advantage of the relative quiet I expect tonight in the areas of the ship in which work is actually done.
“Ensign, I did not expect to see you here.”
Michael looked up from the console to see Saru standing in the doorway of the lab, holding a few PADDs.
“Lieutenant,” she said, by way of greeting.
“Finishing up a few last things before the party?” said Saru. “Most of your cohort do seem to be… quite excited about that.”
Michael raised an eyebrow. “Not quite,” she said. It was true that most of the other ensigns seemed to be looking forward to the party most of all, to the point where they couldn’t seem to understand that anybody else wasn’t. “I’m planning on staying here.”
“As am I,” said Saru. “I rarely attend these functions, myself. I intend to impress Captain Georgiou with my work, not my… partying abilities,” he said in a rather disapproving tone.
“As do I,” said Michael, who would have been rather surprised if Saru actually had any such abilities… though she knew she wasn’t exactly one to talk. “I have not celebrated Halloween in quite some time, and I see no reason to begin now.”
“Ah, of course. I would assume Vulcans consider the holiday illogical.”
“On that, you assume correctly.” For once. “Vulcans would not approve of many of the activities typical of the day, nor would they see any benefit in a holiday focused on an emotion such as fear,” she said. “I suspect you would disagree.”
“My people have never heard of Halloween,” Saru said. “However, I do not believe they would approve either.”
“Interesting,” said Michael. “Why is that?”
“These celebrations appear to revolve around disguising oneself as that which one is not, as if to hide oneself from that which one fears,” he said. “That would be considered close to dishonorable on my homeworld.”
Michael realized she didn’t know if that was actually where Halloween costumes originated from. She thought she remembered having read something like that, but wasn’t sure. In all the research she had done over the years into alien cultures’ traditions, there was a lot she didn’t know about the one she’d been born into.
“In addition, sending one’s children out into the dark would hardly be considered advisable, let alone a fun way to pass the time,” Saru went on. “Even if they are accompanied by their parents.”
“I suspect that is part of the appeal,” said Michael. “It would hardly be much of a holiday if people only did that which was considered advisable on any other day of the year.”
She remembered walking down the darkened street by the light of her mom’s flashlight, with whiskers painted on her face and gloves made to look like paws. One hand in Mom’s hand, the other clutching a half-full bag of candy. She remembered seeing their neighbors--some of them dressed up themselves, most of them human like her, a few who weren’t, who may not have grown up with the holiday but opened their doors to the neighborhood’s children anyway.
She remembered her first year on Vulcan, imagining herself dressing as Alice from the book Mother read to her. Of course, that had never happened.
But that isn’t me anymore, she thought. If she had wanted to go to the party, nothing was stopping her. She just… didn’t. Didn’t find the idea of standing in a crowded, loud room with a bunch of drunk people who were expecting something of her that she either didn’t want or didn’t know to give, at all appealing.
She wasn’t afraid… Well, maybe she was a little bit. But that was not the only reason she wasn’t going. That would be illogical.
“Do the other members of the crew ever try to talk you into going to these events?” she asked.
“Not typically, they do not.”
“Really?” Michael asked. “It has been my experience that many of them are… rather invested in such things.”
“They are young,” said Saru. “You are new. So are many of them. I have been on board this ship for five years. Things are not the same for me.”
Michael wasn’t sure that was all there was to it. Surely she and Saru couldn’t be the only two people on the ship not attending the party, even if one discounted those who genuinely were too busy with work. There were plenty of more introverted members of Starfleet, after all, and not only those who had been brought up away from human customs. Some of them did get disappointed looks when they said they would rather rest, or work. But it was Michael who people talked to like she had been deprived of something, like she should be looking to go wild now that she was finally “free.”
They weren’t always entirely wrong. There were things Michael had missed, or found she liked in her time thus far on the Shenzhou, about living among humans. Parties just weren’t one of them.
She had been the only human, besides Mother, where she had lived on Vulcan, and the only one at all at the Vulcan Science Academy. Now she was surrounded by them--but she still felt like she was part of a different species sometimes.
“You are not a typical human, Ensign Burnham,” Saru said. “Perhaps that is what is so frustrating about you--I have grown used to typical humans in my years in Starfleet, but you are something different yet again. You have become so Vulcan in your time among them that it almost gives me hope for myself--that perhaps I will seem less alien to the rest of the crew someday, that I can become--”
“Don’t.” It may seem like that to you, but I know I was never enough for them. I only did what I had to do, so they would leave me alone--so perhaps they would not try to kill us again--
“In the past few months, I really have come to appreciate being on the Shenzhou,” Michael said. “But I only came here in the first place because the Vulcans rejected me. Starfleet has accepted both of us into their ranks, as we are.”
Not many people here actually know that about me, she realized. She had only really talked about her rejection from the Vulcan Expeditionary Group with Captain Georgiou--and even then, Father had told the captain of it first.
“I thought you of all people would approve,” Saru said. “You seem to see my fear as beneath you, do you not? You and your logic have transcended such things?”
“No,” Michael said. Yes, the two of them disagreed frequently, and Saru did irritate her at times, and sometimes she did wish he wasn’t so afraid of everything--but she hadn’t wanted him to think she saw him as somehow less than she was. She knew all too well how that felt. “We have… different views of the world,” she said. “But all of us experience fear. Even Vulcans, on occasion. Even me.”
Lieutenant Saru: Personal Log.
October 31, 2249.
The twelfth day of the month K’Aroun.
Once again, the rest of the crew celebrates the holiday they call Halloween, and I sit here recording this log. I have just returned from the laboratory, where I find time spent with my newest batch of soil samples much more pleasant than the party would be. My ganglia twitch at the thought of being trapped in that packed room full of people doing things I do not understand.
I still cannot believe that in my first year on board this ship, I thought I could impress the others if I attended their parties. The fact was, even when I did try they did not know how to approach me, and I had no desire to explain to them, for instance, that dancing is not something my people do except to placate the Watchful Eye.
I have written often here of Ensign Burnham. I still find her insistence on ‘logic’ to be rather impractical and almost ignorant of the realities of life out in space. And yet, a part of me was almost relieved to find her in the lab tonight. All throughout my time among humans, I have wished I could fit in. I have been very aware of my status as the only member of my species in Starfleet--indeed, the only one those around me have ever met--and it has made me even more determined to make a good impression.
It is good to know now, though, that while I may never see my homeworld or my people again, I still am not entirely alone.